Preparing Your Law Firm for the Next Social Media Platform
A recent article on social media pointed out that Pinterest grew faster over the last year than both Snapchat and Instagram. Now, this is not a post about moving your firm’s social media efforts to those platforms, or at least not yet. Facebook should still be your priority as a law firm looking to reach consumers on social media. They offer the most targeted ads to the most people. Basically, almost all your potential clients are on Facebook and they’ll stay there for the foreseeable future.
There is an interesting question here though. How long will Facebook stay on top? Pinterest is still growing in relevance and Facebook-owned Instagram’s slice of the digital advertising pie is growing by the day. The social media landscape is slowly shifting, and the next big opportunity for law firms is either on the horizon or already here. While you shouldn’t shift your tactics just yet, looking long-term could help prepare you for future generations of legal consumers.
Facebook is weathering the storm…for now
You’ve probably heard at least some news about Facebook’s struggles in recent months. So far, Facebook has remained unfazed. Their userbase continues to grow and their stock, even in the wake of a near 20% fall in late July, is still ahead of 2018 projections.
But a recent study by eMarketer already shows that members of Gen Z—those born after Millennials—are leaving Facebook, with 3.4 percent of users 12-17 years-old projected to delete their account by the end of the year. Your future prospects, the ones you’ll market to in 10-15 years, are turning away from Facebook and right now, they’re scattered among a number of social sites.
Gen Z isn’t far behind
Gen Z is currently interested in connecting with friends on Snapchat and Instagram, not Facebook. After all, their grandmother has probably had a Facebook page for longer than they have. It should come as no shock to most parents that this is something that younger generations take into account when deciding what social platform to use.
It’s also possible that Gen Z will create their own app or platform. If that’s the case, it may be adopted quickly. Consider that Facebook went from being a startup to toppling MySpace for social media superiority in fewer than 5 years. Also, Facebook was pioneered by Millennials, yet 78 percent of Gen Xers and more than 60 percent of Baby Boomers are now using it.
Social networks are typically created by younger tech and creative types, then used by older generations and businesses once the platform becomes big enough. An example is the social network Houseparty, an app where close friends get together through chat and video to socialize online. A user creates private video rooms for friends where friends can get together, even when they’re in multiple locations. While the app hasn’t gone mainstream yet, for younger generations this platform may look as enticing as Facebook did to college students 14 years ago.
Houseparty’s millennial creators have even enlisted members of Gen Z to make the platform accessible to younger audiences. Considering the popularity of Snapchat and Instagram’s “stories” feature, these more private communication apps could be the wave of the future.
The collaboration between tech entrepreneurs and Gen Z will help define what social trends are on the horizon. Now that social media is the norm, you’ll need to reach consumers there, even if they jump to a different platform.
When to try new social networks
Let’s talk about marketing vs. brand building when you’re looking to branch out to new social platforms. As we’ve established numerous times, Facebook is still your best bet for finding new consumers. Their ad targeting is second to none, and you don’t need a huge marketing budget to successfully promote your posts.
But in 2018, Facebook is not the best network for unpaid brand building and communication. The organic reach of business pages has steadily declined in recent years, making it difficult to grow your law firm without spending money.
Most new social media platforms aren’t fully monetized yet and therefore offer businesses an opportunity to build their brand without spending (a lot of) money. Say you want to experiment with Instagram or Pinterest. Getting active on these sites may or may not help in the short-term, but you probably don’t need a huge time or financial investment to get started. And if those networks do blow up, as an early adopter you’ll have a wealth of content to start promoting.
While this post is certainly about social media, the ever-changing tide of marketing tactics is a theme across digital platforms and channels. Take for instance online advertising. Right now, Google and Facebook are the giants of internet ads. In 2017 the two companies owned 63 percent of the market share.
However, Google’s percentage of that number has steadily declined for the past few years. They’re still the driving force of internet marketing, but they may not be ten or 20 years down the road. You still need Google ads like PPC these days, but your law firm should still keep its proverbial eggs spread among multiple baskets (legal directories anyone?) to ensure you aren’t stuck when change does come.
And change will most certainly come. Maybe not today. Maybe not next year. But someday, your firm is going to need to try something different. Rest assured, when the time comes, FindLaw will be there to help.
Need to make a change today? Schedule an appointment with your local consultant.